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December 16, 2020

By John Wood, Certis Biologicals Regional Manager, CA South Central Valley

December has rolled around again, and I am happy to offer an official congratulations to all of our California tree nut growers for officially reaching dormancy. What a year this has been and you have responded to the challenges, been adaptable, and have shown what great stewards you are with our land, our resources and our health. Kudos to you all! 

But, even during dormancy, we know that the work isn’t finished. There are some major tasks to do while the trees rest, but the good news is that there are many resources out there that can provide some support and information for best practices during dormancy.  

I’m always relying on the useful and analytical information that the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program offers. I return time and time again to their Almond Pest Management Guidelines page and they even have a page dedicated to activities we should focus on during dormancy. They have the same resources for Walnut IPM and it is a wealth of good info for that crop as well. 

The Almond Pest Management Alliance has a great volume of information in their Seasonal Guide to Environmentally Responsible Pest Management Practices. Right off the bat in that piece they have a section dedicated to recommendations during dormancy. It’s easy to find, easy to read and easy to use quickly to save time during dormancy. 

You should also be taking time during dormancy to scout in your orchards and while you’re doing that, use this UC-IPM page as guide to confirm what you are seeing. It has photos so that you can’t mistake what pest you are seeing. This scout will help determine if you need a dormant application and what issues you need to focus on early in your IPM for the next growing season. Trust me on this—it’s important. 

Another thing you should be doing during dormancy is pruning. Pruning correctly is complicated, so I appreciate that UC-Davis has this great page with pruning guides for each stage of your almond tree’s life. I personally like the step-by-step videos for each level. 

It’s pretty easy during pruning to identify dead limbs that may have been damaged by shothole borer or Pacific flatheaded borer. Be sure to remove those immediately and burn them away from your orchard to prevent spread.   Additionally, UC-IPM recommends that you count mummy nuts before January 15 so you’ll have plenty of time to reduce populations of Navel Orangeworm before bloom. During pruning, you should have plenty of time to count and remove them if necessary.  

There is a lot to do, but remember, you are not in this alone. Even during dormancy, you should be working hand-in-hand with your PCA to discuss making the most of your orchard management program and plan for next year’s IPM. You should also still be talking to your PCA or your local Certis sales representative. We have a great team of sales and technical pros who live right here in California. If you don’t know who your rep is, visit to find out who it is and how you can contact them right away. We are all happy to work as a resource for you, especially during dormancy. As always, if you’d like to talk directly to us, you can reach out at

I will be back in 2021 with some exciting news about Ask the Expert! In the meantime, I wish you and yours a happy holiday season! 

This series is part of a partnership with Tree Nut Farm Press. You can read the original here.

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